Certain words have, in recent years, taken on different meaning. “Totes” used to be bags. “Phones” were once something you used to call people.
Few words, however, have changed so much from their original meaning — and so perniciously — as “tolerance.”
“Tolerance” is still defined by Merriam-Webster as “sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own.”
However, in 2018, we now have New York City Councilman Justin Brannan bragging about harassing National Rifle Association members about their support for the Second Amendment so much that they’re forced to hold meetings in secret, yet claiming that “this isn’t about intolerance.”
And you know what? With the current definition of the word, he’s pretty much right.
Let’s start from the beginning, which is usually a good place to start. The Brooklyn Reporter — a sort of sub-Village Voice for Gotham’s most-bearded borough — wrote a piece this past week about how the local NRA chapter’s meetings had been chased into hiding.
The piece started with the ominous words “They’re back,” as if people who disagreed with the enlightened viewpoint of The Brooklyn Reporter’s readership somehow represented a conservative zombie invasion.
This tacit comparison is surprisingly common: the idea that those who espouse views that disagree with those of the urbane left somehow represent a brainless horde. Their flannel shirts are not ironic, their coffee isn’t fair trade, and this zombified multitude — which inhabits wide swaths of the desolate space in between Kennedy Airport and LAX — have become so cerebrally rotted that they now lack even the basic intellectual capacity to recognize the inherent goodness of the Democrat platform and continue to vote GOP.
But I digress: “This paper has learned exclusively that the Brooklyn Friends of the NRA, whose event featuring a gun auction was booted from two Brooklyn venues over the past couple of months after local residents and elected officials expressed strong objections, will be holding their dinner at the Dyker Heights Knights of Columbus, at 86th Street and 13th Avenue, tonight, beginning at 6 p.m.,” The Reporter reported Thursday.
“It’s unclear if the gun rally is still a part of the evening’s activities. No information about the invite-only event was available online on the group’s Facebook page or elsewhere, based on a Google search. A source reported a strong police presence outside, as well.”
Councilman Brannan, a Brooklyn Democrat, thought hounding those who disagreed with his vision of the world underground was a great idea, apparently even if that harassment was so pronounced they needed extra police protection.
Looks like we've successfully chased the @NRA underground in #Brooklyn. Now they've gotta sneak around behind our backs and book catering halls under fake names just to have a meeting. Sounds about right. https://t.co/Rt6sOaok8N
— Justin Brannan (@JustinBrannan) April 26, 2018
Unfortunately, that unwashed mass of cadaverous monsters may only exist in isolated pockets in Brooklyn — and pockets forced into hiding, at that — but they’re a lot more prevalent elsewhere. And bah gawd, someone gave these animals social media and taught them how to read!
They are your fellow citizens who hold different political views from you. Why would you want to chase them underground? Should pro life groups be chased underground?
— David Marcus (@BlueBoxDave) April 26, 2018
You, sir, need some educating on the right to assemble.
— Kyle Kashuv (@KyleKashuv) April 27, 2018
Spoken like a true fascist Justin. Who else's free speech rights do you plan to trample?
— Chris Cap (@chriscapxxx) April 27, 2018
Brannan then took to Twitter to insist this totally wasn’t about intolerance. It was just about … being intolerant of people’s constitutional rights, which he feels are dangerous.
A mass shooting occurs approx every 64 days in the US. This isn't about intolerance. If you don't see why folks aren't exactly over the moon about the NRA — a group that adamantly supports Concealed Carry Reciprocity — raising money in their backyard, I dunno what to tell you.
— Justin Brannan (@JustinBrannan) April 26, 2018
And you know what? Brannan is right. This isn’t about intolerance. Not in the modern sense, anyway.
Any linguistics major will tell you that when it comes to a word, usage determines meaning. And by the way we use “tolerance,” celebrating the ad hoc persecution of Second Amendment supporters to the point where they need to book halls under fake names and require police presence certainly falls under the aegis of the present usage of the word.
Calling those who believe in what the Bible says “homophobes,” even if they show love and respect to every individual regardless of his or her sexual orientation, as the Bible commands? That’s tolerance.
Calling those who believe immigration laws should be enforced “bigots” and “racists”? Again, tolerance.
Censoring conservative speakers on college campuses, including those funded with taxpayer dollars? The very height of tolerance.
See, to the left, we are the zombie horde. We are not human beings. We’re abstract ghouls they dare not meet or hold civilized discourse with, lest they legitimize our existence. Instead, we’re shouted down, threatened, bullied until we’re (hopefully) driven underground. And then, men like Brannan think that they’ve won.
So no, Councilman Brannan isn’t intolerant. It’s just that the word no longer means what you think it does.
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